January 22, 2007
GRANITEVILLE, S.C.---Almost 36 hours later, Aiken County deputies are still looking for 18-year-old Jack Cooper, who escaped from a deputy's car.
Deputies say he's a robber. His mother says he just needs help.
Deputies say Cooper held store employee Sergio Sorcia at gunpoint Saturday night.
He was wearing a mask like the one in the thriller movie Scream.
"He had a pistol in my face and said give me all your money," Sorcia told News 12.
Deputies didn't know what the robber looked like, but they say they soon developed enough to take Cooper in.
"We're positive he is person responsible for this crime," said Lt. Michael Frank.
But just as soon as they found Cooper, he able to get away.
Deputies say Cooper was able to manipulate his handcuffs and slip through the partition in the back of the deputy's patrol car.
Up to 30 deputies searched for hours, but they couldn't find Cooper.
Cooper's mother Linda doesn't deny her son may have had a hand in the robbery, but she's confident he didn't commit the crime alone.
She says she knew from an early age that something was different about her son.
"He'd say, 'Why can't I be normal like everyone else? Why am I retarded?'" she told News 12.
Linda says her son has a history of mental problems. She says he even talked of taking his own life and tried to seek help in August 2006.
After he escaped, he called her Sunday afternoon.
"I feel like he's in a corner somewhere hiding, balled up in a corner like a 4-year-old. All he could say was, 'I think I done something wrong, Momma, I really think I did something wrong this time'," Linda said. "I wonder if he's laying in a ditch dead."
So far Cooper faces charges of armed robbery and possession of a gun.
He won't be charged with escape because he wasn't at the jail or being transported by a jailer.
The sheriff is looking into whether the deputy followed procedures during the escape.
Another deputy told News 12 a large man could fit through the Plexiglas partition between the front and back seats.
Cooper is six feet tall, but very skinny.